Appreciative Coaching: “I Want to Be Known as the Clinician Who …”

In his New Yorker article “Personal Best,” surgeon and author Dr. Atul Gawande describes his experience with coaching after he asked a colleague to observe his surgical technique.1 Any physician—or anyone who knows a physician—recognizes that this is a highly uncommon and unusually humble thing for a practicing physician to do. As physicians, we are trained to appear confident at all times and to never admit errors. Why would we need coaching?

Dr. Gawande notes that because of his Yoda-esque mentor’s observations, he made important adjustments for procedures with which Dr. Gawande was already highly familiar. Though his mentor had no training in Dr. Gawande’s specialty, ...

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